Sep 25, 2019

Pompeo doubles down on claim of Iranian "act of war" in Saudi Arabia

Pompeo this week at the UN. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared today that he had been right to label attacks on Saudi oil facilities an “act of war” by Iran, but said Iran would fail to “goad us into conflict.”

The big picture: The U.K., France and Germany accused Iran yesterday of responsibility for the Sept. 14 attacks. Iran has denied responsibility for the attacks in Saudi Arabia, accused the U.S. of “deception" and warned of "all-out war" if attacked.

  • President Trump has also accused Iran but has not echoed Pompeo's claim last week of an "act of war."
  • Trump denounced Iran’s “bloodlust” in his UN address yesterday, but did not make a case for a military response.

Speaking today at an event hosted by United Against a Nuclear Iran on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Pompeo said the Europeans had “joined reality” in blaming Iran for the attacks and calling for new nuclear negotiations.

  • Pompeo said “everyone in the region and indeed in the world got lucky” that no one was killed in the attacks.
  • Iran, he said, is “calling every play in the playbook to goad us into conflict, to create division between nations and extort them into action, and you should know their playbook won’t succeed.”
  • He said the U.S. would continue to tighten sanctions on Iran, and he announced new sanctions on “certain Chinese entities for knowingly transporting oil from Iran, contrary to United States sanctions.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will address the UN today. He has met this week with the leaders of Germany, France and the U.K.

  • He has ruled out a meeting with Trump, insisting no talks are possible unless U.S. sanctions are loosened.

Go deeper: Trump to meet Ukraine's Zelensky at UN amid impeachment frenzy

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U.S. hits Iran with cyberattack following Saudi oil bombings

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. has allegedly carried out another cyberattack against Iran in the wake of attacks on Saudi oil facilities in September, two unnamed U.S. officials told Reuters.

Why it matters, per Axios' Joe Uchill: This is the second publicly revealed round of cyberattacks in response to real world attacks, after U.S. Cyber Command targeted Iran following the downing of a U.S. drone in July. The U.S. and many of its allies have blamed Iran for the Saudi oil attacks, but Iran has vigorously denied the allegations.

Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019

Rouhani's UN address reflects Iran's growing intransigence

Rouhani addressing the 2019 UN General Assembly. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at world leaders in a strident address from the floor of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday, underscoring the Islamic Republic's increasing isolation on the international stage.

The big picture: Since May 2019, the world has seen Iran violate nuclear commitments and attack oil installations and commercial shipping critical to the international economy. France, Germany, and the U.K. have joined Washington in pointing a finger at Iran after the recent strikes on Saudi oil facilities, a sign that the trans-Atlantic community may be uniting against Tehran.

Go deeperArrowSep 27, 2019

Turkish bank tied to Giuliani client indicted in money laundering scheme

Reza Zarrab. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

A Turkish bank known as Halkbank has been charged in a 6-count indictment for "fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran," federal prosecutors in New York announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Bloomberg reported last week that in 2017, President Trump pressed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help convince the Justice Department to drop a sanctions evasion case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader named Reza Zarrab — a client of Rudy Giuliani's whose case was a high priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Zarrab later pleaded guilty and testified against the CEO of Halkbank, also alleging that "Erdogan knew of and supported the laundering effort on behalf of Iran."

Go deeperArrowOct 15, 2019